Parents and children should be involved when considering placement outside the home

Child protection professionals do not provide sufficient oral and written justification as to why an out-of-home placement is necessary

Fact-finding carried out prior to a forced placement outside the home of a child is not always and not careful enough in all respects. Juvenile defense professionals do not provide sufficient oral and written justification as to why a remand in custody is necessary. What is clear is that there is always a combination of problems. Decisions to apply for deprivation of liberty are also made jointly by several experts. They are very enthusiastic professionals who do their best for children’s healthy and safe development. But they encounter boundaries in the complex youth protection system.

This is the conclusion of the Health and Youth Inspectorate (IGJ) after an investigation of 45 placements outside the home. The supervisor reviewed the files and spoke with those involved. These are the child protection board’s and certified youth welfare institutions. They can lodge an application for forced placement outside the home with the juvenile court judge. Last year, there were 3,301 new detentions.

black box
Researchers from the Child Welfare Service and youth institutions ‘certified institutions believe that they listen carefully to children’s and parents’ expectations and wishes. But they experience it differently. About half do not feel taken seriously or understood. They experience decision-making about their family as a ‘black box’. A recommendation from the supervisor is to ensure that children and parents are involved in the deliberations on whether and why a deprivation of liberty is necessary. And that they feel taken seriously and understood. Even if the result is something other than what they really want.

Fragmented chain
The chain of youth protection is fragmented. As a result, families have to deal with different professionals with different responsibilities. This fragmentation is catastrophic for building a working relationship between professionals and a family. They also have some time to attach to a family.

Adjacent systems
The professionals must first map out whether a child or young person is threatened in their development. Youth protectors can use (mandatory) help with parenting and youth care, but not in other areas such as housing or finances. Youth protectors can not be expected to help parents get their lives in order, for example in terms of housing, work, health, mental health, domestic violence or relationship problems. While such problems – and combinations thereof – can threaten a child’s development.

waiting lists
Due to waiting lists in the youth protection, children in unsafe situations stay longer. They get more damaged, the problems get bigger. This can make the situation at home unsustainable. The waiting lists then ensure that placement outside the home can no longer be prevented. The waiting lists also make it harder to restore and restore contact between child and parents.

The Authority makes a number of recommendations. Below are the most important.

  • Organizations should provide their professionals with adequate opportunities and time to get to know a family well and to work according to their own professional guidelines. The professionals can claim that too.
  • When professionals ensure that children and parents are properly involved, they feel taken seriously and understood. Even if the result is something other than what they really want.
  • It is important that professionals orally and in writing state their considerations and reasons for a decision to request deprivation of liberty. And communicate about this with the young person and the parents.
  • Ensure that contact and contact between parent and child is maintained or restored. Unless it is definitely not in the best interest of the child.
  • More attention to the position and legal protection of parents and children. By dealing with their reactions, by handling complaints, by appointing a confidential adviser, a support person or legal assistance. Young people and parents must be actively informed about the possibility of a confidentiality adviser and the complaint procedure.
  • Municipalities should actively offer an impartial representative or confidential adviser to any young person and parent facing a youth protection measure.
  • Municipalities can provide directly accessible, daily practical help to families if the parents are not sufficiently available for the upbringing and care of their children.
  • Relatives must have the opportunities and powers to organize help in different areas of the parents’ lives, so that the whole family receives the right care and support without delay.
  • The problem of waiting lists and waiting times throughout youth protection must be resolved as soon as possible. Because having to wait for help often exacerbates the problems.

Finding facts prior to child placement

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Better involvement of parents and children when considering placement outside the home
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